Joe Biden has warned that American democracy is under grave threat from Republican forces loyal to donald trump and their “extreme Maga ideology” that “fans the flames” of political violence in pursuit of power at all costs.
In a prime-time speech from Philadelphia, the city where American democracy was born, the president said the United States was in an ongoing battle for the “soul of the nation,” echoing a theme that animated his campaign for the White House in 2020.
“Donald Trump and the Maga Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic,” Biden said in a speech at Independence Hall. The president stressed that not all, not even most, Republicans are “extremist maga”, but there was no doubt he said the party was “dominated, driven and intimidated” by Trump.
Maga is short for Make America great again – a slogan from Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
The speech was part of an aggressive new line of attack Biden has unleashed on Republicans ahead of the midterm elections, as his party enjoys a bright political prospect helped by a series of significant legislative victories and the public reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion.
“The Maga forces are determined to roll back this country,” he said. “Back to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry whoever you love.”
At a recent political rally in an affluent Washington suburb, Biden accused the Republican Party of embracing “semi-fascism.”
Thursday’s prime-time speech was the second of three visits by the president in less than a week to the battleground of Pennsylvania, which is home to back-to-back races this election season.
In the race for the U.S. Senate, Mehmet Oz, the Trump-backed heart surgeon turned celebrity doctor, takes on the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Democrat John Fetterman, in a contest that could determine which party controls the chamber, currently divided in equal parts.
Meanwhile, Democrats have warned of the risks of Doug Mastriano, the far-right Republican gubernatorial nominee, a figurehead in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania who helped to transport people to Trump’s rally in Washington on January 6 that preceded the attack on the United States Capitol.
In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state, giving the next governor enormous influence over how the 2024 presidential election plays out in the state. Mastriano faces Democrat Josh Shapiro, Attorney General of Pennsylvania.
In a speech on Tuesday, the president slammed “Maga Republicans in Congress” for their attacks on the FBI after agents seized boxes of classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month. The remarks were aimed at countering Republican attacks on Democrats as being “soft on crime,” with Biden casting his opponents’ rhetoric as a threat to law enforcement and the rule of law.
“The idea that you turn on a television and see senators and congressmen say, ‘If such and such happens, there will be blood in the street’?” he said to Wilkes-Barre. “Where the hell are we?”
Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader and a staunch Trump ally, delivered a “pre-buttal” to the president’s speech from Biden’s birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania. McCarthy accused Biden of “doing everything in his power to crush the soul of America” and demanded an apology from the president for his remarks at a political rally that the Republican Party embraced the “semi- fascism”.
McCarthy made no mention of the Jan. 6 assault or the widespread election denial embraced by most of his party’s supporters and many of their candidates for public office.
It was more like Trump who spoke about the events of January 6 Thursday, pledging pardons and apologies to those who participated in the deadly attack on the US Capitol if he were re-elected to the White House.
“I mean full pardons with apologies to many”, he said to Wendy Bell, a conservative radio host on Thursday. “I’m going to look very, very strongly at pardons, full pardons.”
Trump is due to hold a rally in Scranton on Saturday.